Film News

Berlin festival honors jailed Iranian filmmaker

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi smiles, following his release on bail, at his home in Tehran May 25, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

BERLIN (Reuters) - The Berlin Film Festival will pay tribute this year to Iranian director Jafar Panahi, organizers said on Tuesday, a month after the filmmaker was sentenced to six years in prison in Iran.

According to Panahi’s lawyers, he was jailed by an Iranian court last month for making a film without permission and inciting opposition protests. The court also banned him from writing or making films for 20 years, his lawyers say.

Panahi, whose film “Offside” won the Berlin festival’s Silver Bear award in 2006, had been named as a member of this year’s jury at the festival which runs from February 10-20.

“We are going to use every opportunity to protest against this drastic verdict,” Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick said in a statement.

“Offside” will be among the Panahi films screened in Berlin, one of the world’s top festivals. A panel discussion with Iranian filmmakers and artists on censorship and the restriction of freedom of opinion in Iran will take place on February 17.

Panahi, winner of many international awards and a supporter of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi in Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election, was arrested in March.

Iranian authorities regularly accuse Western governments and media of conducting propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Peter Graff